Mushroom Learning Center: Chaga Mushroom

Posted by Larry Norris on

Have you ever heard of Chaga mushrooms? Initially found in Siberia, these mushrooms have served as medicine to improve one's overall health and boost immunity. Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus Obliquus) have some of the highest antioxidant values of any food on the planet. Making this fungus a true force against free radicals and other compounds.

These mushrooms are slowly becoming popular in the western world due to their potential health benefits. Many people use Chaga mushrooms to help combat cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Where do Chaga mushrooms grow? It's interesting to note that the Chaga mushroom, a fungus, grows mainly on birch trees' bark in chilly climates. You can find these mushrooms growing in the geographic areas of Alaska, Northern Canada, Korea, Russia, Northern Europe, and Siberia. 

In this article, we will look more into Chaga mushrooms and explore the research as well the effectiveness, possible side effects, dosages, and supplements. 



What is Chaga?

Chaga mushrooms are a fungus with a rock-like appearance. They have high fiber content and low calories. Moreover, these mushrooms don't have your usual mushroom taste. Instead, they have an earthy flavor coupled with a hint of vanilla. Other names referring to Chaga mushrooms include Clinker Polypore, Birch Conk, and Cinder Conk.

What is Chaga good for? This mushroom has beneficial compounds, including:

  • Flavans
  • Polyphenols
  • Polysaccharides
  • Melanins
  • Triterpenoids

Additionally, these mushrooms are available in supplement form and can make tea and other infused drinks.

Types of Chaga

There only exists one type of Chaga mushroom, Inonotus Obliquus. But, we can break the mushroom into three distinct parts:

First, there's the mushroom's outer black layer, the middle dark orange part, and finally, the innermost light orange part. All these parts are essential for medicinal use. 

Chaga Mushrooms Lookalikes

Burl and birch gnarl are tumors found on birch trees considered to be Chaga mushrooms lookalikes. Although they don't contain the same beneficial compounds as Chaga, they're still popular among woodworkers due to their beautiful texture.

Therefore, when looking to identify Chaga, aim to find the gold. That squishy, softer, orange/yellow core containing "fungal lanostances" differentiates it from other lookalikes.

Chaga Mushroom Health Benefits

What is Chaga used for? These are some of the questions that run through most people's minds regarding Chaga mushrooms. Chaga mushrooms may offer the following health benefits:

Boosts Your Immune System and Fights Inflammation

High in antioxidants, the Chaga mushroom helps fight inflammation while boosting your immune system. The antioxidants help reduce inflammation in your gut that may cause irritable bowel syndrome.

Prevents and Fights Cancer

A study shows that Chaga mushrooms may help slow cancer cells growth in your body. In the survey, Chaga supplements lead to a 60% reduction in tumor sizes. Another research confirms that it helps prevent cancer cells growth in the liver.  

Lowers Blood Sugar

If you have insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Chaga mushroom can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance. 

DNA Protection

Cells pretreated with Chaga extracts show a good percentage of reduction in DNA fragmentation. Therefore, treatment with Chaga mushroom creates cellular protection against DNA damage caused by H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) treatment. 

Lowers Cholesterol

With its high levels of antioxidants, Chaga mushrooms help lower your cholesterol, reducing the chances of heart disease. Furthermore, a study confirms that Chaga mushrooms help reduce bad cholesterol. Additionally, there's evidence that Chaga increases good cholesterol.

Detox Support

Chaga has powerful antioxidant properties which help detox your body from harmful chemicals and toxic substances. It helps remove toxins from your body by replacing them with healthy minerals including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals are used to help alkalize the body.

Liver and Digestive Support

Inflammation is often the result of a weakened liver, and with Chaga being an anti-inflammatory, the mushroom helps to fight against this matter.  When an organ or the immune system becomes weakened, it becomes more susceptible to infections.  Chaga counters this by stimulating the production of immune cells through its immune-boosting effect. Which helps the body be more invulnerable to harmful viruses and bacteria such as hepatitis.  

Additionally, Chaga has a positive effect on oxidative stress which has been found helping those with digestive issues. A study found that when given Chaga extract, the overall oxidative stress found in cells saw a decrease

Energy/Stamina

A study found on the National Library of Medicine suggests that Chaga helps to boost the accumulation of a molecule called AMPK in the body. AMPK helps to restore and maintain energy. Leaving researchers to hypothesize that this mushroom could help in boosting energy and stamina. 

Performance and Recovery

A study found that mice were able to swim for longer periods without fatigue when given a Chaga extract compared to the placebo. Not only did the Chaga help in endurance, but it also decreased fatigue markers such as lactic acid. 

Furthermore, muscle and liver glycogen was significantly higher in the mice fed Chaga mushrooms, suggesting that Chaga may be able to slow down glycogen use during exercise, which plays an important role in exercise endurance. Chaga also reduced blood urea nitrogen levels in the mice. Which helped to prevent fatigue.

 

Chaga Mushroom Dosage

You will find Chaga mushrooms in herbal tea, capsule, or powder form. And while you may take these options like supplements, Chaga is better absorbed when infused in hot water.  

It is recommended that you buy a Chaga mushroom powder with high bioavailability so that it is ready to use straight out of the bottle. At Stay Wyld Organics, we've developed our own proprietary steaming process that ensures that your Chaga is ready-to-use and at its maximum bioavailability.

Remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate the use of supplements. There are, therefore, no set recommendations on the correct dosage of Chaga mushroom supplements.

Accordingly, you need to follow the recommended dosage guideline on the Chaga product of your choice. 

Health Canada, however, does have guidelines on Chaga dosage based on different methods of preparation. These recommendations are as follows: 

Method of Preparation

Uses or Purpose

Doses (grams)/day

Dry, Powder, Non- Standardized Extracts (Dry extract, Tincture, Fluid Extract, Decoction)

Source of fungal polysaccharides

Not to exceed 3.6 g of dried cultured mycelium/ fruiting body/mycelium per day

Standardized Extracts (Dry extract, Tincture, Fluid Extract, Decoction)

Source of fungal polysaccharides

Not to exceed 3.6 g of dried cultured mycelium/ fruiting body/mycelium per day and 40 % polysaccharides

According to Health Canada

Chaga Mushroom Potential Side Effects

The use of Chaga mushrooms as medication and supplements carries with it some risks such as:

  • Reacts when combined with certain medicines causing unpleasant side effects.
  • It can be dangerous for people to use insulin and other medications to lower blood sugar levels.
  • If you have a bleeding disorder or are preparing for surgery using blood thinners, Chaga contains a protein that prevents blood clotting, which can be dangerous.
  • May trigger allergic reactions leading to complications such as breathing difficulties and changes in heart rate. 
  • Chaga may lead to an overactive system which is unwanted in people suffering from an autoimmune disease.
  • Pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid it because there's no research supporting its safety in such conditions.

How to Cook With Chaga Mushrooms

A photo of Chaga mushrooms and tea.

Because Chaga is too tough and woody for regular recipes, most people prefer to dry it and grind it into fine powder. Consequently, you can add the powder to tea, coffee, or other warm drinks. 

How to Make Chaga Mushroom Tea

If you wish to extract all the beneficial compounds of the Chaga mushroom, you'll need to let it sit in hot water for up to 15 minutes. After simmering your tea, strain it to remove all the Chaga chunks. 

Also, remember to consume the tea while still hot. You can sweeten the tea with honey, maple syrup, or sugar. Add milk to the tea for a more traditional tea experience. If there's any leftover tea, you can put it in the fridge for not more than seven days.

Other Chaga preparation methods include alcohol extraction and fermentation. However, the recommendation for these methods is for home use. 

It is highly recommended to shop for a Chaga mushroom powder that has been prepared for maximum bioavailability. Stay Wyld Organics’ Chaga Powder is steamed for maximum bioavailability so that it’s ready to use straight out of the bottle. Our proprietary steaming process ensures that your Chaga powder is in a ready-to-take state, and at its maximum level of bioavailability. 


FAQs

What Does Chaga Mushroom Do For You?

Chaga mushrooms may have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Accordingly, this makes them an excellent potential remedy for high blood pressure and cancer.

Is Chaga Technically a Mushroom?

Inonotus Obliquus is a fungus type in the Hymenochaetaceae family. In addition, it's parasitic on trees like birch.

Why is Chaga the King of Mushrooms?

Chaga has compounds that boost immunity, anti-inflammatory components, and high levels of antioxidants. That's why it's sometimes referred to as the "king of medicinal mushrooms."

Can Chaga Be Harmful?

Frequent consumption of Chaga may cause hypoglycemia (drop in blood sugar levels). Consequently, Chaga can also affect blood clotting. Therefore, avoid using it if you have bleeding disorders. 

What Vitamins are in Chaga?

Chaga contains several nutrients that help boost your health, such as six adrenal-nourishing B vitamins and vitamin D2. Other properties of the Chaga mushroom include fiber, proteins, amino acids, and other minerals such as iron, manganese, calcium, zinc, copper, magnesium, and potassium. Chaga also contains some of the highest antioxidant values of any food on the planet. 

How Much is Chaga Worth?

Chaga retails between $25 and $70 per pound, depending on whether it's European Chaga or sourced from other places. Dry and ground Chaga costs around $19 per 100 grams.

What Does Chaga Taste Like?

Chaga mushrooms have an earthy flavor and are slightly bitter. Naturally, they also contain vanillin, the same as the vanilla bean. 

Does Chaga Tea Make You High?

Because Chaga mushrooms don't contain psilocybin, unlike other "shrooms," Chaga tea won't make you high or have any psychoactive effects on you. Thus, these mushrooms are safe and legal. 

Is Chaga an Antibiotic?

Chaga is the most potent form of natural antibiotic, and it boosts the immune system, reduces cravings for sugar, and increases your energy levels. However, it would be best if you didn't use this mushroom simultaneously with other antibiotics because it isn't safe.

Does Chaga Help Arthritis?

The extract can positively impact discomfort from long-term inflammation like arthritis. Additionally, it helps fight viruses and harmful bacteria.

How Do You Grow Chaga Mushrooms?

You can plant Chaga dowels into 4cm holes drilled on a birch tree. One birch tree holds up to 6 planting holes for the dowels. 

What is Chaga Mushroom Good For?

Chaga mushroom helps ease inflammation and slows cancer cells' progression. Also, it helps lower blood sugar levels and acts as an alternative remedy to high blood pressure.

Is Chaga Mushroom Good For You?

Yes, Chaga mushroom is good for you because of its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it helps boost your immunity against other infections. 

Is Chaga Mushroom Psychedelic?

Unlike other "shrooms," Chaga mushroom isn't psychedelic and, therefore, doesn't make you high. It is legal and safe to consume. 

Is Chaga Good For the Liver?

Chaga mushroom extracts may help reduce or prevent certain liver conditions. The extracts may protect the liver tissue from tetra-butyl hydroperoxide, a chemical known to cause liver damage. 

Is Chaga Good For Anxiety?

Chaga contains triterpene, a mood-boosting compound that helps ease anxiety. In addition, it encourages you to sleep better and alleviate depression.

How Much Chaga Should You Drink a Day?

It's advisable to keep the dose strictly at 1-2 tablespoons a day. Even when the mushroom gives you great results, increasing the dose isn't advisable. 

Does Chaga Help You Sleep?

Medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga support restorative sleep; other mushrooms that help sleep include Lion's mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi.

Is Chaga Good For Your Skin?

Chaga is an adaptogen, and its consumption or topical application supports overall skin health. In addition, other Chaga benefits for the skin are that it contains a superfood known as kojic acid that keeps your skin hydrated and nourished. 

The Bottom Line

For a long time, Chaga mushrooms have been helpful for their health benefits. They are rich in plenty of antioxidants and other significant compounds. Chaga mushrooms are available as supplements or in tea. 

Chaga mushrooms may help improve cholesterol levels, blood sugar, chronic inflammation, improving immunity, and fighting cancer. Still, there's a need for further studies to determine issues such as optimal dosage, side effects, and safety. 

If you wish to try using Chaga supplements or tea and have concerns over interactions with other medicines, talk to your health practitioner first.



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